Habi­tat Chop­tank cel­e­brates three mort­gage burn­ings

Sunday Star - - BUSINESS -

— Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Chop­tank marked a ma­jor mile­stone at its an­nual vol­un­teer ap­pre­ci­a­tion din­ner with a mort­gage burn­ing cel­e­bra­tion.

Three home own­ers, hav­ing made the fi­nal loan pay­ments on their homes dur­ing the last year, joined with Habi­tat vol­un­teers, staff, and fu­ture home buy­ers for the cer­e­mony. This mile­stone co­in­cides with Habi­tat Chop­tank’s 25th an­niver­sary. The first mort­gage burn­ing was cel­e­brated in 2014 and ev­ery year since at least one home owner has paid off.

Rev­erend Dar­tanyon Hines, of Scotts United Methodist Church in Trappe, led a spe­cial ser­vice to com­mem­o­rate the oc­ca­sion. One by one Glenda Daw­son of Eas­ton, Lil­lie Mae Mundy of Belle­vue, and Mickey Hyn­son and Rasheme Ch­ester of St. Michaels stepped for­ward for the cer­e­mo­nial light­ing of a copy of their orig­i­nal note.

While many will rec­og­nize Habi­tat for build­ing and re­hab­bing homes, it is of­ten less well known that Habi­tat af­fil­i­ates serve as the pri­mary lender for their home sales. In 2015 and fol­low­ing the lead of other ru­ral Habi­tat af­fil­i­ates, Habi­tat Chop­tank ex­panded its financing pro­gram to in­clude the 502 Di­rect Loan with the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture in ad­di­tion to tra­di­tional Habi­tat mort­gages.

Of the 75 homes that Habi­tat Chop­tank has com­pleted since 1992, 71 were pur­chased with a zero-per­cent in­ter­est Habi­tat mort­gage while four have been fi­nanced by USDA.

The use of no-in­ter­est or zero-equiv­a­lent low-in­ter­est loans is cen­tral to Habi­tat’s work of mak­ing home own­er­ship af­ford­able for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who can­not qual­ify for con­ven­tional financing.

It is worth not­ing that while most Habi­tat home buy­ers are gen­er­ally first­time and even first gen­er­a­tion home buy­ers, the non­profit con­tin­ues to main­tain a less than two per­cent fore­clo­sure rate with only one fore­clo­sure over its 25 year his­tor y.

How­ever their loan is fi­nanced, Habi­tat home buy­ers as­sume the full re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of home own­er­ship: mak­ing monthly mort­gage pay­ments, pay­ing home owner’s in­sur­ance and prop­erty taxes, and main­tain­ing their homes. While the dream of home own­er­ship has been made com­plete for the Daw­son, Mundy and Hyn­son-Ch­ester fam­i­lies with their fi­nal pay­ments, their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as home own­ers con­tinue. Ed­u­ca­tion and sup­port are core com­po­nents of Habi­tat’s hous­ing pro­gram.

Vol­un­teers from the Mort­gage Ser­vic­ing Com­mit­tee have de­vel­oped an ed­u­ca­tional work­shop to help th­ese and the other home own­ers who will be pay­ing off their notes in the com­ing years to make sound fi­nan­cial and home main­te­nance plans for the fu­ture.

Since 1992, Habi­tat Chop­tank has em­pow­ered 75 work­ing in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies from Tal­bot and Dorch­ester coun­ties to build strength, sta­bil­ity and self-re­liance through home own­er­ship. Each buyer to­day con­trib­utes 300-400 hours of sweat equity in build­ing houses in lieu of a

down pay­ment, at­tends ed­u­ca­tion classes, elim­i­nates any out­stand­ing col­lectible debt, and saves $4,500 for costs at set­tle­ment.

Cur­rently, ten buy­ers are work­ing through Habi­tat’s part­ner­ship pro­gram to­ward the goal of be­com­ing suc­cess­ful home own­ers. Ap­pli­ca­tions for home own­er­ship are ac­cepted through­out the year. For in­for­ma­tion about home own­er­ship, to vol­un­teer with Habi­tat Chop­tank or to make a do­na­tion, visit www. habi­tatchop­tank.org or call 410-476-3204.

PHOTO BY JILL JASUTA

The feel­ing of joy is ev­i­dent for Lil­lie Mae Mundy as she burns a copy of her mort­gage. Mundy was one of three Habi­tat Chop­tank home own­ers who made their fi­nal loan pay­ment this past year and took part in a re­cent mort­gage burn­ing cel­e­bra­tion.

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